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VolunTeen, Croatia

Volunteering is the best gift which you can give to this world. It’s a magic power that can totally change your life and fill it with new bright emotions and priceless knowledge, friends from all over the world, experience to live and work abroad. It will help you to learn foreign languages, to become more open minded and flexible, to learn about various nationalities and intercultural differences.

This autumn I had unique opportunity to volunteer in Croatian NGO "Ocean Znanja" in Zagreb. It was a short-term 2 months EVS. My sending organization was Ukrainian NGO "Stella" to which I`m very grateful for this chance and faith in me.

 

"Ocean Znanja" is nonprofit, non-governmental organization that functions as a platform for young people. The aim of the platform is to help young people reach their full potential, to learn and grow, to develop their personal and professional skills and to be active participants in creating a society they want to live in and not just stay passive observers or onlookers. They give them the space and the possibility to try doing things not connected with their education and encourage them working on their soft skills.

Target groups of "Ocean Znanja" are divided in 2 segments. Firstly - young people from 16 to 25 years old. They propose different activities for this age group including volunteering, mobility and non-formal educational workshops. The other age group (25-40) includes teachers and youth educators which they send to different training courses and encourage them to use non-formal methods when teaching children and young people and give them a wide range of methods that can help them in regular class.

 

The name of my project was "VolunTeen". I was working with another short term volunteer from Italy - Valeria, long-term volunteer from Ukraine - Elizabeth and our amazing head of NGO - Zrinka who is super professional in the youth work. I assisted the organization to explore and expand ways and methodologies to empower young people in order to increase their competences and promote projects/events/activities on the topic of volunteering, multiculturalism, EU values, peace building and intercultural dialogue.

During these 2 months we:

  • proposed educational and leisure activities for local youth and organized them in schools and universities.
  • used different online tools for promoting volunteering, youth mobility and multiculturalism.
  • helped to write Erasmus + projects and after project reports
  • promoted volunteering among the international volunteers but also in the community of youngsters from Zagreb.
  • developed creative, social, cultural competences, as well as soft skills and spreaded the self development path lifestyle
  • created the social media articles and reports regarding Croatian cultural heritage and implemented activities
  • helped to organize different workshops in our NGO.

 

We managed to participate in European week of Sports and organize active games and zumba workshop in 2 different schools; we delivered workshops about Positive psychology, Opportunities of non-formal education for youngsters; I made Zumba workshop, Presentation of Erasmus+ for students in the university and organized Ukrainian intercultural night where presented Ukrainian traditions, national dances and food.

 

Also in the end of every week we had very interesting task: we were supposed to write 10 things which we did for the first time and 10 things which we learnt. It helped us to feel the moment, to notice all changes that happened to us during this period and to evaluate gained experience.

Obligatory task during my EVS was to create my own project and to make contribution to the local community. As I am experienced in dancing I decided to propose dance course for ladies which was supposed to discover their femininity, to help them to become more graceful and flexible, to feel beautiful and appreciate their own body, to improve their posture and gracefulness. We had 8 amazing dance lessons with group of girls and in the end we created choreography as a result of our hard work. Many of them after my course decided to continue dance classes in Zagreb dance school and for me it`s the best outcome of my effort.

And of course the sweet part of volunteering abroad is ability to travel. Every weekend we went somewhere and enjoyed the beauty of nature and architecture. I managed to visit different Croatian cities and national parks, to explore beautiful places and museums of Zagreb as well as to travel to other neighbor Balkan countries.

I can say for sure that I fell in love with Croatia and it was one of the best periods of my life. I learnt many new things, got invaluable experience, met new great people as well as my dear old Croatian friends, I learnt a bit of Croatian language, history and traditions, tried Balkan food, I was blessed to see with my own eyes incredibly beautiful nature and wonderful Adriatic coast of Croatia. Everything that was happening - it was a small miracle and these memories will stay forever in my heart.

If you are still thinking about EVS please don’t hesitate to use this unique opportunity and change the world by changing yourself.

Oksana Nazymok